Playing A “Long Lost” Laserdisc Prototype: The Spectre Files: Deathstalker

arcadehero February 5, 2019 2
Playing A “Long Lost” Laserdisc Prototype: The Spectre Files: Deathstalker

Way back in 2013, I wrote up a couple of articles that detailed the history of unreleased arcade games that were in the works at one time by Midway. Similar posts had been created for Atari and Taito, so Midway was just as deserving of that attention.

In researching the 2nd unreleased prototypes post, I was able to talk with Brian Colin, an artist and game designer who had worked at Midway since the early 80’s. His name is attached to a variety of games you should recognize and have likely played: Spy Hunter, Discs of Tron, Rampage, Arch Rivals, Xenophobe and more.

In the revelations of that post, Brian brought up several games that I had never even seen mentioned on unreleased game lists, but one really stood out to me – a laserdisc choose-your-own adventure style game by the name of The Spectre Files. I played a few FMV adventure games back in my day (TBH, I never really understood why everyone was so into MystReturn To Zork was a far more entertaining game), so seeing something that would have been a predecessor to those kinds of 90’s games – and in arcades – was quite something.

Fast forward to 2016, and news came along that Mr. Colin along with Galloping Ghost Productions was looking to resurrect and restore The Spectre FIles project so that the gamers of today could enjoy a title that otherwise would have been lost to time. If you would like to read an extremely detailed history of how the game came into being, then I would highly recommend this article over at The Daily Grindhouse

This wouldn’t be an easy or quick process – while the footage had been found, the script and some other assets were missing. But with some patience and effort, the reconstruction process went forward, the footage preserved digitally and at the end of 2018,  game cabinets produced to ship out to a handful of locations that are interested in having a piece of history on their game floors.

An early version of the Deathstalker marquee (it was changed for the final release)

The Galloping Ghost has had one available to play for a little while now, with a couple of other locations out east also grabbing one. With a cabinet arriving in my possession last week, it is only fitting to take it for a spin and film the effort, although as mentioned in the video, this game is also unusual for how much game time you can squeeze out of it – something very unusual in today’s market, but even for an 80’s game. That said, this game has a lot of replay value to it; since I played what you see below, I played it a few other times and had a different experience each play as I tried out other choices. I came across a hippie (played by Brian Colin), a psychopath and a werewolf…but still have plenty to explore.

(Note: The game does not use a laserdisc now…that would not be feasible nor very logical given today’s technology)

UPDATE: Oct. 2019: Here’s another crack at the game using direct capture:

What do you think of this unique game?


  1. Toby Nanakhorn February 6, 2019 at 5:12 am - Reply

    Interesting stuff! Always enjoy your articles.

  2. September 5, 2019 at 9:00 am - Reply

    I love interactive fiction, I would enjoy playing this.
    I think story-games do lack something compared to other arcade games – watching the game may make you not want to play it, if you see the path to win!

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